Lagniappe for LA
September 8, 2005 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Bon Temps: Requesting your suggestions for a Louisiana-themed benefit party.

So, I'm involved in a community of musicians who wants to do something as a Katrina benefit. We'll probably donate to the Musicians Fund or something else a bit smaller than the giant aid orgs. something that will help Louisianans recover and resettle. There is an emphasis on cultural preservation as well as immediate victim aid.

What we've got: An excellent Zydeco band, an excellent old-time/punk band, a hall with a wooden dance floor that holds 200+ people, someone to teach some basic steps for zydeco dancing, someone who can cook good food in bulk, beer, a paid bartender, and me to stage-manage this shindig. We're going to charge a cover, then sell food and beer to raise additional bucks.

What I need now: Your creativity and knowledge in suggesting particular foods to serve; other items to sell or goofy things to stage for fundraising purposes; ways to have some political dimension (such as a petition); ways to link up to other relief and poverty-aid organizations; ideas for decorating; anything at all to make it a big time.

Nota bene: We want to avoid the expected 'Mardi Gras' theme, so please no beads and maybe not so much masks. We're going for more of a Fais-do-do vibe. This party is in Connecticut, though, and much of the money will go to the city of New Orleans, so some muddying of cultural distinctions is probably unavoidable. So, just think "Best of Louisiana". Thanks in advance.
posted by Miko to Grab Bag (16 answers total)
Arrrgh! Metafilter ate my last comment. And it was long. Buncha jerks.

Ok. Cocktails MAY have been invented in NO by a chap named Peychaud, who has his own brand of bitters to this day. So anything (aside from maybe hurricanes) should be fine to mix. Particularly recommended are:
The Sazurac Cocktail-- Whiskey, Pernod, Peychaud's Bitters, Sugar
Swirl Pernod in a chilled Old Fashioned glass to coat, Dissolve sugar & add a couple dashes of bitters to taste, Fill with Whiskey & Garnish with a twist. Traditionally served neat.
The New Orleans Hand Grenade
Roffignac: 1 jigger Cognac or Whiskey, 1 pony simple syrup, soda & grenadine Stir all in a highball glass, top with soda, and add ice.
New Orleans Mint Julep: Refrigerate your glasses or metal goblets overnight. Drop a layer of mint leaves in the serving glasses, fill 1/4 full with shaved ice, then add 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar. Repeat this layer & then add a jigger of Bourbon. Repeat this process one more time. Serve with a straw.

More here and here.
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 AM on September 8, 2005

Crawfish. Got to have crawfish, if there are any to be had. Some restaurants in N.O. would have mailed them to you in large quantities, if there were no need for the benefit. Now, I don't know where you'd get them. If you do get them, make sure you've got lots of newspaper to put them on, plus lots of napkins. Maybe lobster bibs are in order, too.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:40 AM on September 8, 2005

New Orleans Recipes.

Mardi Gras King Cake - Recipe.

Potent Potables with a Southern Accent - Recipes at bottom of page.
posted by ericb at 11:40 AM on September 8, 2005

...and you must have Red Beans and Rice. BTW - it's a long-standing tradition -- "Red beans take a long time to prepare, so many families ate them on Monday so that mom could start them on Sunday and do them right. The smell of red beans cooking would completely permeate neighborhoods." Most restaraunts in New Orleans serve(d) red beans and rice on Mondays.
posted by ericb at 11:49 AM on September 8, 2005

I suggest roast beef po-boys. It would be fairly easy to make, so long as you have good french bread available. I was trying to think of what to sell and hot sauce immediately came to mind. Beignets would be pretty easy to make and SO New Orleans.
posted by renyoj at 1:05 PM on September 8, 2005

i love the can kickers!!!

some things i think of when i think new orleans:
muffuleta, jackson square, french names for stuff, cool cemeteries, the saints football team, crazy unintelligible drunk folks.

the street performers ive seen there are all great, the human statues and musicians especially. the coolest looking human statue i saw had painted himself all bronze.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 1:25 PM on September 8, 2005

Barq's Red Creme soda reminds me of New Orleans too. Probably because that's what my grandfather always ordered with his Shrimp PoBoy.
posted by renyoj at 1:51 PM on September 8, 2005

Mmmm. Shrimp bread.
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on September 8, 2005

posted by theora55 at 3:00 PM on September 8, 2005

Jambalaya? I'm sure you could probably get some Mam Papaul's or Zatarain's mix..
posted by kuperman at 3:05 PM on September 8, 2005

The Sazerac is the New Orleans cocktail. It's made with bourbon or rye, sugar, bitters, and an interesting potion called Herbsaint.

If you ply the guests with Sazeracs, they'll become very enthusiastic about making donations.

If you're doing just beer, I recommend Abita, if it's available.
posted by wryly at 3:27 PM on September 8, 2005

NOAH Leans- New Orleans & Houston, Employment and Relocation Aid for Musicians Displaced by Hurricane Katrina
posted by nimsey lou at 3:51 PM on September 8, 2005

Skip the roast beef po-boy and make it a shrimp po-boy!!
Raw Oysters on the half shell. Lemon and Tabasco sauce.
It doesn't get much better than Filé GUMBO!!
posted by nimsey lou at 4:12 PM on September 8, 2005

>>other items to sell or goofy things to stage for fundraising purposes< br>
Silent auctions bring in a ton of cash. They are the bread and butter of fundraising party-type events; as efficient as a bake sale but with bigger ticket items. They're pretty simple to organize, and once you set up the tables of stuff & clipboards, they run themselves all night, allowing you to actually have some time to enjoy yourself.

Get people to donate goods or services and auction them off with the proceeds going to the fund. Get the value of the donated items (say $500 is what the band would charge to play someone's party) and start the bidding at about half that price, with bids allowed in, say increments of 10% (for that $500 band, starting bid at $250, bids in $50 increments.) Write all that baloney out on a clipboard with spaces for people to sign their names & their bids. Lay everything out on tables with the clipboards so people can eye the goods (if it's something intangible, like, say, piano lessons, make a little certificate or something in Word that says what they're getting and from whom).

At the end of the night, collect the clipboards, perhaps make an announcement of who had the highest bid on what, and either settle up then and there or make future arrangements (if you decide the former, make sure to put somewhere on the clipboards that the highest bidder must be present at the end of the night or it goes to the next highest bidder; if the latter, make sure people write their phone #s on the bid forms.)

Some unique items a community of musicians might be able to auction off: instrument/voice lessons; a band playing someone's wedding/bar mitzvah/house party; instruments (perhaps someone can solicit a music shop to donate a good guitar or something); a personal theme song (you know, if someone had the offer of the creation of my own theme song as an auction item I would be all over it. Could you imagine? Your own theme song? I would want mine to have sort of a 70s wah-wah vibe, with lots of brass.); ask the bands to donate their catalogs on CD; ask the zydeco dance teacher to donate a couple of private lessons -- or to donate deeply discounted lessons (that way they can get a few bucks from someone who they may have never gotten any bucks and the charity still gets a few bucks.)

Plus a million other things that you could get local businesses to donate. Sticking with a Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama-music/culture theme: if there are any Southern cooking/gumbo restaurants in your area, ask them to donate a gift certificate for dinner for two (or a buy 1 get one free dinner); Ask the local independent book store or music shop to donate books/DVDs/CDs of those artists/themes; is there a baker in town -- they should donate a free king cake to be picked up on Mardi Gras for an auction item; get a local hotel to donate an overnight/weekend package and call it something silly (The Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez Weekend Get-away) ...

And don't be shy about asking places to donate, eiter. Any place you go to during the day, places where you are already a patron, go look for a way you can get them to help you out with a donation. You're already a good customer, its a good cause, they'll get exposed to new customers. Wins all around.

You can pull together a silent auction that will bring in at least as much as ticket sales or more in about 2 weeks; less if you have someone helping you. I've done some that have brought in 2-3 grand in about that time.

It's really cool that you're organizing a party like this, and I hope my ramble is some help.
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:12 PM on September 8, 2005

Response by poster: Just want to say thanks for everyone -- hard to choose a best answer, because all have been helpful and are so good. I'm excited now. You've sold me on silent auctions, great food, and Sazeracs. Merci beaucoup!
posted by Miko at 7:11 AM on September 9, 2005

Response by poster: ...And finally, the Lousiana Gumbo Stomp was a great success. Over 100 attendees, raised more than $2000, and a smokin' good time. We ended up serving jambalaya, gumbo, pralines, cornbread, iced sweet tea, Barq's, and Bass Ale (Abita unavailable). We forewent the hard stuff as sort of a safety measure. A guy taught basic Zydeco dancing. We got great auction donations. Thanks for all the help!
posted by Miko at 7:37 AM on December 11, 2005

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